What is a Nectar vs Tincture
erbal medicine has been an instrumental component in my practice with Integrative Wellness.
Within the field of ethnobotany, the brewing of plant remedies becomes more accessible! Ever tried a tincture? Ever tried a glycerite? Ever wondered the difference?
By definition, a tincture is, “a liquid herbal extract made by soaking herbs in solvents such as pure grain alcohol, which helps extract the active ingredients from the herbs. The liquid is strained out and the herbs are discarded. A tincture can be made of one herb or a combination of herbs.”[i] Alcohol based tinctures are most common; however, glycerites are made from vegetable glycerin to keep the tincture alcohol-free. The benefits of having a glycerite vs. an alcohol-based tincture are increasing. One of the major benefits is that glycerites do not negatively harm people who have any issue with alcohol. People in rehabilitation and detox centers can benefit tremendously from tinctures without harming their well-beings.
Glycerites are made from vegetable glycerin. Herbal extractions, however can also be made by soaking the plant matter in vinegar or honey. When stored properly, (in a dark, cool and dry place), glycerites can last up to a year. Vegetable glycerine is actually a form of alcohol, but doesn’t taste anything like it. It’s very sweet in flavor, and doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels.[ii] Glycerites are also suitable for breast feeding mamas, pregnant women, children, and pets!
Glycerol is considered to be a weaker solvent than ethanol. This is because the same intermolecular forces that cause the glycerol to be dense, viscous, and thick are the same forces that decrease its ability to extract the medicinal properties from plant material. [iii]
When considering whether to make a glycerine tincture or an alcoholic extraction, it is important to consider the solubility of the material being extracted. Glycerine will extract sugars, diluted enzymes, glucosides, bitter compounds, diluted saponins as well as tannins. Alcohol will extract some alkaloids, glycosides, volatile oils, waxes, resins, fats, some tannins, balsams, sugars and vitamins. [iv]
Another important consideration is the absorbance ability of the extraction method. Alcohol has a quicker access to the liver. Glycerine, on the other hand, is absorbed by the digestive tract 30% slower than alcohol. Additionally, glycerine is utilized through a “secondary pathway in the liver, ( known as the gluconeogenic pathway). “ This results in a lower glycemic load on the body than happens with alcohol.v
The denaturing of a material in tinctures is a reality. How much the plant material is denatured is dependent upon the solvent. A benefit of using glycerites vs. alcoholic extractions is that the ethanol will denature the plant’s material far more than a glycerite will. v For this reason, glycerites are recommended in dealing with plants that are more complex in molecular structure, like polysaccharides for example. Another example would be a plant that is an aromatic. If the desire in making the tincture is to retain the original taste and aroma, a glycerite should be employed.
Alcohol based tinctures are also known as an extract. It is considered to be one of the most effective tinctures because the alcohol itself extracts the medicinal properties of the plant better than any other solvent. This is explained due to the preservative properties of the alcohol. And when stored properly, alcohol-based tinctures can be kept for up to 2 years!
Happy tincture brewing!
When it comes to herbal remedies, there are many different ways to administer them. Some are consumed internally while others are applied topically.
For those taken internally, they can be administered via glycerites, tinctures, or teas.
There seems to be some confusion about what a glycerite is, so today, we want to shine the spotlight on glycerites and their many advantages over typical tinctures.
WHAT IS GLYCERITE?
A glycerite is simply a fluid extract of an herb that uses glycerin as its method of extraction. They are very similar to tinctures.
However, tinctures are made with alcohol while glycerites are made with glycerin.
Glycerites provide an alcohol-free alternative for children as well as adults who can't consume alcohol for health or personal reasons.
WHAT ARE GLYCERITES USED FOR?
Glycerites have many health benefits and can be used both internally and externally.
GLYCERITES FOR INTERNAL USE
Glycerites can be made with every herb imaginable. Here are just a few applications to give you an idea of just how helpful they can be:
A chamomile glycerite, for instance, is one of the best herbal sleep agents you can find. Although it works more like chamomile tea, the glycerite is more concentrated and therefore more potent. Taking sufficient doses is enough to guarantee a restful night's sleep.
If you’re struggling with a weak immune system, then an Echinacea glycerite may be just what you need.
This is the go-to powerhouse for building the immune system and can do wonders for shortening the common cold or even the flu.
If you're dealing with an upset stomach, a peppermint glycerite can help ease nausea in less than an hour.
In general, the dosage for glycerites is about 1.5 teaspoons three times a day, but of course that depends on the type of glycerite used.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use or that of your herbalist or healthcare provider.
GLYCERITES FOR EXTERNAL USE
Topically applied Calendula glycerite is one of the most soothing natural antifungal remedies. It also has a softening effect on the skin.
If you want to get rid of your cold sores fast, just apply a little amount of lemon balm glycerite and your symptoms will disappear as fast as they came.
Certain skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis can be soothed by applying a glycerite made from Oregon grape root.
Glycerin is a natural skin softener. When combined with specific herbs containing skin-supportive properties, you have a concoction that can not only soothe the skin but support the integrity of it.
WHY CHOOSE GLYCERITES? ADVANTAGES & BENEFITS
Glycerites are far more potent than teas. Just small doses are enough to deliver powerful pharmacological effects that far outweight what teas can achieve.
2. ALCOHOL FREE
For varying reasons, many in our population can’t consume alcohol. For some, their liver is already overburdened, so they don’t want to risk even small amounts of alcohol.
Others have personal convictions that govern their use of alcohol even in medicinal applications.
Then there are our children who are especially resistant to tinctures, making it hard to administer natural herbal remedies.
Glycerites provide a means of administering these potent remedies to those who otherwise would be unable to partake.
3. LIMITED SIDE EFFECTS
Alcohol-based products are often loaded with potential side effects. For those that are applied topically, irritation, dryness and itchiness are very common.
There is also a risk to liver function whenever alcohol is involved.
Glycerites provide a safe, better tasting alternative.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GLYCERITES, TINCTURES, AND INFUSIONS
The primary difference among these three is how they are made. They are all herbal extracts, but their extraction processes differ.
As previously mentioned, glycerites are extracted using glycerin as a solvent. Tinctures, on the other hand, are extracted using alcohol. As for infusions, they are extracted using water.
When making infusions, the herbs are soaked in water and left to stand until the water absorbs all the flavors and oils. The liquid so obtained is referred to as an infusion and is then consumed as a tea.
They also differ in their rates of absorption.
Alcohol tinctures absorb faster than glycerites because they take a quick route to the liver where they are processed for absorption.
Glycerites take a different pathway in the liver and absorbs at a slower rate. As a result (and a potentially added benefit), glycerites do not affect blood sugar levels as much as tinctures do.
HOW TO MAKE A GLYCERITE
Have you ever wanted to make glycerites at home? If so, here are the ingredients you’ll need to get started:
- Large glass jar
- Boiling water
- Food grade vegetable glycerin
- Dried herbs of your choice
- Fill the jar with your dried herb of choice until it is half full. Do not fill to the brim.
- Pour a small amount of the boiling water into the glass jar. This step can be considered optional, but the boiling water plays a crucial role in dampening the herbs to help in drawing out its beneficial ingredients.
- Fill the rest of the glass jar with food-grade vegetable glycerin. Use a clean spoon to stir the mixture gently. In all circumstances, the glycerin should make up more than half of the mixture.
- Cover the jar with a lid and leave it for 6 to 8 weeks. During this period, you’ll be shaking the mixture occasionally. Once the timeframe has elapsed, strain the herbs. What’s left is your glycerite.
- Store in a cool, dry place.
If you'd rather skip the DIY route, you can find made-for-you glycerites online and at many local health food stores.
At Khroma Herbs, all the herbal tinctures we offer are in glycerite form, providing potency, quality and a taste that goes down easy. Shop our many options today!